Kenya: I have on numerous occasions, since a research project I was engaged in way back in 2011, raised concerns about the level of alcohol abuse in Kenya. In numerous occasions, I mentioned that there are too many young and not so young people whose day is significantly occupied with taking brews some of questionable quality and lacking in sanity due to its lethal components. That the president found it useful to make an order for crackdown is a move in the right direction. The shortcoming of the exercise has been some of the methodologies used that lack civility. Who alcoholism.
Moreover, we need to ask, why is Kenya full of grown-ups who risk everything to take questionable alcoholic drinks not caring about the health consequences or safety? You have to study the demographics, the political economy and the changes since independence. I'm leaving out pre-independence era as the mess of that political state is well documented and no need to belabor on it, suffice it to say that the subjugation of innocent humanity by that dispensation has had enough of horrors told. While independence provided particularly Africans and other non-Europeans an opportunity to build themselves in post-independence Kenya, the so many mistakes along the way have messed several generations.
As we speak the challenges the current regimes face in balancing the needs and the resource mobilization is a result of culmination of structural weaknesses brought about by ills in our systems over time that include corruption, sabotage, adverse ethnic competition and fear. Kenya's economic development has not matched the growth in population and the needs of her people thanks to the aforementioned. It is not that we are neither a highly populated country nor a resource scarce nation, far from it. If you carefully study countries like Germany, Japan and South Korea the average number of people per square kilometer is far lower in Kenya in comparison. Kenya is relatively less densely populated. Similarly, the average number of people per the quantum of established and exploited natural resources plus the potential therein clearly indicates Kenya has a huge structural weakness vis-à-vis the mentioned countries. South Korea case is particularly striking. A troubled nation coming out of a civil war at the time Kenya was getting independence coupled with a troubling twin (North Korea) in a region that have had enough of political upheavals with small landmass compared to her sizeable population, proves what innovation, smart thinking and visionary leadership can achieve.
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The South Korean journey is quite something Kenya did not match in pace and lost the plot along the way long time ago. That Kenya faces a huge and growing population into unemployment and poverty is not in doubt. Each year we are creating very few quality jobs. There are many joining to joblessness and consequently hopelessness each year. With this any temporarily relief to the misery is welcome. Alcohol of the cheap and affordable variety has occupied the center piece of downing the misery of this group of people. Moreover, there are many with irregular jobs or work and whose earnings may not mean much in individual self-development. These too find solace in alcohol with their meager earnings. At the same time many even with good jobs have adopted a laissez faire attitude that alcohol and luxury occupy part of their lifestyle. This coupled with general consumption of alcohol by those who take it for leisure or networking make alcohol industry one of the fastest growing. The unfortunate bit is there is a lot of dirty alcohol or methanol for that matter which flow in the market and the indiscipline of the partakers of the same.
Alcohol has had its way of growing quite many irresponsible youth and adult hence the destruction if lives and families in many regions of the country. To solve this challenge and as a starting point, enforcement of laws and regulations must be stringent. We also we have to sort the big question on the economic problems that we face. With growing ranks of idlers we are not yet out of the woods notwithstanding the crackdowns.
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